9 Medical Uses for Cannabis

9 Medical Uses for Cannabis

If you’ve been looking for an alternative to pharmaceutical offerings, you’ve likely heard cannabis shows promise as a viable treatment for many medical conditions, and 33 states have legalized medical cannabis for qualifying patients.

Massachusetts voters legalized medical cannabis in 2012, and regulations have been in effect since 2013. If you look at the actual law, the state allows a medical cannabis to be recommended for “debilitating medical conditions” that are defined as “cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.”

Along with epilepsy and pain management, the following conditions are some of the most common medical uses for cannabis.

1. Cancer

While plenty of anecdotal evidence shows cannabis can play and effective role in cancer treatment, a growing body of studies support these claims. In 2006, Spanish researchers found that THC had the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth. In 2017, another study found patients treated with cannabis experienced a significantly increased life expectancy. In addition to affecting the treatment of the cancerous cells, cannabis has also been shown to help with nausea from chemotherapy and the pains of treatment.  This study shows a combination of cannabinoids (including both THC and CBD) was found to be more effective than THC alone.

2. Glaucoma

Cannabis has been used to treat glaucoma, due to its ability to reduce and relieve intraocular pressure since its discovery as an effective option in the 1970s. Since then, multiple studies have continued to demonstrate the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties cannabis can provide to  glaucoma patients.  

3. HIV / AIDS

For individuals living with HIV/AIDS, cannabis can help alleviate symptoms such as nausea and pain, while stimulating appetite and hindering the progression of the HIV virus. Preclinical studies have shown that treatments involving cannabis compounds were more likely to increase chances of survival and prevent the spread of the virus.  

4. Hepatitus

The state of Massachusetts allows patients with Hepatitis C to qualify for medical cannabis. Studies using synthetic cannabinoids suggest cannabinoids could play a role in inhibiting inflammation and liver damage from the disease. Additionally, patients that consumed cannabis while undergoing treatment for hepatitis were more likely to commit to and complete their treatment programs.

5. ALS

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) affects motor neurons of the spinal cord, and causes continuous atrophy of muscles. There are only a handful of treatments available to extend the lives of those living with the disorder. Early research on cannabinoids has provided a glimmer of hope, as studies showed that synthetic cannabinoids successfully extended the lives of rodents with ALS. Research also suggests that cannabinoids could play a therapeutic role in regulating the endocannabinoid system in ALS patients as well.

6. Crohn’s Disease

Since a clinical trial of patients in 2013, cannabis has been considered for its potential medical use in treating gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Nearly half of the patients that used cannabis saw complete remission, and all but one patient saw improvements in their condition.  

7. Parkinson’s Disease

As Parkinson’s Disease develops over time, it can have debilitating effects on a patient’s quality of life. In 2004, an anonymous questionnaire sent out in Prague found that one in four patients was using cannabis, and nearly half of them reported benefits related to motor symptoms. Other studies have suggested that the dyskinesia that patients experience can be reduced through the stimulation of the endocannabinoid system.

8. Epilepsy

While not explicitly listed among qualifying conditions at the state level, cannabis treatments for epilepsy have garnered a significant amount of attention in recent years, and it is the only FDA-approved use case for cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabinoids have been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures, especially in rare cases of Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes, which can be fatal to young children who experience hundreds of seizures on a regular basis.

9. Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, whether associated with one of the aforementioned uses or independently present, is among the most frequently recommended reasons for medical cannabis use. Cannabinoids have a proven analgesic effect on the body, which is particularly useful when it comes to frequent, chronic pain. Additionally, surveys have found that patients with cannabis recommendations prefer cannabis to other painkillers when treating their pain.

Need More Info?

Massachusetts law leaves  medicinal cannabis to the discretion of the physician. If you have a condition that we haven’t mentioned and believe cannabis may help, talk to your doctor about an evaluation and recommendation. If you already have a recommendation, ask for a consultation at one of our Happy Valley locations to learn which offerings may best suit your needs.

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